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Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Dear peoples of the internets:

I will redeem my Groupon for a two month membership at the Y tomorrow (Friday).  Shortly thereafter, I will get in the pool and swim.

Pinky swear,
Jessica

Yes, this is a little pathetic, but I’ve had said Groupon for a couple weeks now and keep meaning to use it “tomorrow”.  :P  And you know what else?  I really haven’t tackled much of my list yet, and this is a prerequisite for achieving #9.

making bread

Also, I have recently decided that in order to have bread, I have to bake it myself instead of buying it.  After all, I have a baking blog, right?  The other day, I finally kicked myself in the bum and made a couple loaves.

I also decided to give my roommates’ nice KitchenAid a break by mixing and kneading the dough by hand.  This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, but it’s not something I do on a regular basis.  If I’m making promises on my blog to join a gym, you can imagine how much of a challenge this was for this weakling. :P

So I ended up making my go-to bread for sandwiches: whole wheat!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking (I have the dish on the cover!)

I received this book for Christmas and it has so many great recipes that I can’t believe I’m just now trying one out!  For this recipe, they state that you can make a less sweet bread by using water instead of milk and cutting the honey down to 2 tablespoons.  I did a combination of the two and the flavor was perfect for my tastes.

5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
2 cups milk or water, heated to warm (105-115F)
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup mild honey
2 large eggs
6 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading and topping
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pans, at room temp

In a large bowl (or in the bowl of your mixer, if using), stir together the yeast and milk and let sit about 5 minutes, or until foamy.  Whisk in the honey and eggs, then add the flour, salt, and butter.

By hand: Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until a shaggy mass forms.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding a little flour to prevent sticking.  The recipe says this should take 5-7 minutes, but it took me WAY longer…

– OR –

With mixer: Attach the bowl to your mixer and using the dough hook, knead on low speed.  Add a little flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl.  Allow to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, which should take about 5-7.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling around so the dough is coated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place.  It should double in size.

Butter two 9″x5″ loaf pans.

Press the air out of the dough, then turn it out again on a clean surface.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half.  One at a time, flatten each half evenly into a rectangle using your palms.  Roll the bottom third up and press the seam with your hands to seal it.  Continue rolling up and sealing the dough until a log is formed.  Pinch the ends and seam to seal them.  Place each loaf seam side down into a pan and gently, evenly press on the tops.

Cover the loaves loosely with a towel or plastic wrap and let them rise again for 45 – 60 minutes.  They should double in size.

Towards the end, preheat the oven to 375F with the rack in the center.

Lightly dust the tops of the loaves with flour.  Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until honey brown.  You can test for doneness by tapping on the top; the loaves should sound hollow.  Remove the loves from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks.  If you slice them before, they could lose moisture!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe would be a cinch to halve, but I recommend making both loaves.  Bread freezes perfectly: just slice it, and freeze it in a freezer bag.  You’d probably want to freeze it anyway if you were just making one loaf since fresh bread goes stale super fast.  So yeah, make two!

And it probably goes without saying, but this bread makes some awesome toast!  It’s a softer wheat bread due to the honey, eggs, and butter.

toast 'n coffee

Fact: Homemade bread is the BEST.

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